The city has posted details of Mayor R. T. Rybak’s proposed $1.1 billion budget online, revealing plans for a variety of new spending and hiring despite a slight reduction in the property tax levy.
Here are some of the highlights:
The mayor wants to hire 22 new employees and increase spending by $24.5 million, or 2.2 percent.
His plan calls for bringing in another real estate appraiser to cope with the development boom in downtown Minneapolis, bringing the department back up to staffing levels from more than a decade ago, and hiring 4 ½ new fire and housing inspectors.
Rybak wants to hire another civil attorney and spend $75,000 on domestic violence prevention. His budget proposes spending another $250,000 on expanding 311 operations to include weekend hours and pay for three new employees.
The mayor would reinstate 2 ½ property services workers using one-time funding, and hire an additional employee to assist in purchasing and payment processes. Funding would be reduced $200,000 in other areas of the Department of Finance and Property Services.
One of the largest increases – 28.2 percent -- is to the budget of the city coordinator, with extra funding going to support sustainability programs, work with the Public Utilities Commission, lobbying, the city’s tree canopy, and arts and culture planning. The budget of the department that handles neighborhood and community relations would also see a 143.3 percent increase, back to its 2011 level.
Four new programs would be added for transportation maintenance and repair, including residential sealcoating, pedestrian safety improvements, street light improvements in North Minneapolis and winter-weather maintenance for pedestrian and bike facilities.
The public works budget includes $1.25 million in engineering costs related to the proposed streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The city has created a value capture district to garner revenue for this project, but the $1.25 million will come out of the general fund. Another $200,000 is proposed to examine a possible streetcar line along North Washington and West Broadway.
Additionally, the mayor is proposing to spend $500,000 on a "West Bank Interconnect Project," which appears to relate to Rybak's budget speech proposal to "convert the 5th Street off-ramp from I-94 to a pedestrian connection between downtown and the West Bank."
Rybak is also proposing to spend about $625,000 on putting its information technology contract out for bids. That contract, held by Unisys for many years, is currently the city's largest.
The police budget includes $300,000 for a program to "support cultural competency, diversity awareness and sensitivity training for the police department."
City Hall will also spend $115,000 to subsidize employees’ use of a Metropass and Nice Ride bikes.
Another auditor would be hired, along with an extra employee to help implement the federal Affordable Care Act.